Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Borrow Blogging

Because I have a really bad cold and I have to go in to work to go to two meetings and give a presentation to some visiting VIPs, I've decided to just borrow a photo from Rick Lee again. If you visit his blog, you'll see why I do this. Rick's got the blog to visit when you need some uplifting photos.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mojave Cross

Our friends over at StopTheACLU have posted about an ACLU effort to bring down a cross that was erected in the Mojave Desert. They went to court and got the judge to have the cross obscured. The effect is incredibly eerie. Courtzero made a movie of the cross and I posted it to YouTube. Watch the whole thing.

What kind of weird, obsessive creeps would take the time to go to court to have this done? It's as if they have a list of all the religous symbols they have ever seen and are slowly having them all torn down, covered up, scraped off or sealed up. It's like they want to put God in jail.

If you never saw this video, you would never think this possible.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Morning Blah Blogging

I caught a cold last week and muddled through a mostly listless weekend. I missed an opportunity to go rockhounding in the desert with the San Diego Mineral and Gem Society because I figured my cold would only get worse with less sleep. I'm now wishing I had gone. Last night was the worst.

I've avoided blogging much during this time for fear that I might have a computer virus and it might spread to your machine.

See? Even my humor is listless.

On a completely unrelated subject, I've gotten my work to support blogging and the results after one week have been amazing. We've only got five bloggers, but the increase in connectivity and communications has been outstanding. I'm thinking of starting a series of posts on how we've used it and how it's helped us, cross-posted to both sites. I haven't done much Carnival of the Capitalists work lately and this would be a good opportunity to do so.

On a totally different tangent, I did manage to listen to the Saints beat the Falcons 31-13 on the web yesterday. The Saints are now in first place in the NFC South and if the season ended today, they'd even get a first-round bye. Wow. That's a far cry from the 3-13 record of last year. When they make the playoffs, this house will be rocking. I make a great Jambalaya and a bunch of other Cajun dishes as well. We will party for sure.

That's about all the random thoughts I have right now. I hope y'all had a more energetic Thanksgiving holiday than I did.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pacific Ocean Sunset

God produced another spectacular Pacific Ocean sunset for me and I thought I'd share. The water in the foreground on the right is Mission Bay. In the distance it's the Pacific. San Diego Gas and Electric has been gradually moving their power lines underground. The main street near ours has theirs almost toally underground now. I hope I live long enough to see these down as well. I'm not complaining, mind you, just remarking.

Click on the image for a better version of the picture.

The Sea World tower is that spindly thing on the left hand side.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The L A Times is Working for the Enemy

Our Patriarch of the Airwaves linked to this piece by Patterico wherein he Fisks an article by the L A Times alleging that Coalition forces bombed a residential area in Ramadi.

The L A Times, apparently, was using a stringer who is aligned with the insurgency. They've been using this stringer for quite a while.

Terrorism's only weapon is publicity. Without that, they have no real power. They cannot take and hold territory, they cannot inflict unacceptable military losses on the enemy and they do not command industries that can build a significant fighting force while they prolong the war. All they have is the media. If a bomb goes off in Ramadi and no one reports it, the terrorists have lost. If someone reports it, they've gained some advantage give or take the cost of the attack on their own resources.

If no bomb goes off and one is reported, they've won a huge victory. It is the ultimate in assymetric warfare. A payoff in exchange for nothing at all. An infinite rate of return.

The L A Times reporters either do not know this or they do know it and hate America so much that they publish this trash. In either case, the L A Times must go bankrupt for the good of the nation. They are enemy propaganda tool, plain and simple.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Yummy Tryptophan!

The turkey was delicious...

...but next year could we have tuna?

For more felines fussily feasting, visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thursday Thirteen, Thanksgiving Edition

I haven't checked the blogosphere yet, but I'm sure this is the theme for this week's TTs. Not wanting to be left out, here's thirteen things I'm thankful for in no particular order.

1. My parents. They sacrificed tremendously to send us all to Catholic schools and make sure we went to college. While other families were taking cruises and jetting off to exotic vacations, we did road trips and things around home to save money to provide for our futures. Second honeymoons and private vacations and nights out were rare for them as they chose instead to give to us.

2. My parents. I was chronically ill as a child and went through a couple of major surgeries. My mother was always home to take care of me and pretty much home schooled me through first grade as I missed over 50% of the school year. My father sacrificed a huge career advancement that was in a location that would have been bad for my health and chose instead much worse jobs in places better for me.

3. My mom. She is an outstanding cook and she taught me to try new dishes and experiment with cooking. She took great pride in making a warm and loving home and while I can't manage to do all the things she taught me, I remember and cherish all of them.

4. My father. Well-educated, he tried to impart all manner of life skills to me. Thriftiness, planning for the future, bravery in the face of adversity, love of literature and art and honing my writing skills. Even when it doesn't seem like I've taken the lessons to heart, they're a part of me.

5. My son. He's had some very hard times and through it all he's shown tremendous strength and courage. He works hard to help his little sister be a success.

6. My daughter. She had a rough start in life and has gone through some bumpy times. The word that best describes her is irrepressible. Good cheer and loving support is what she gives us all.

7. Our Maximum Leader. Just look at this picture. What more needs be said?

8. Believe it or not, I'm thankful for Jacob the Syrian Hamster. When I sit with him and read, he teaches me to find joy in the simplest of life's pleasures. I recently changed his food from pellets to a mix of seeds and dried fruits called Fiesta Mix. I thought his head was going to explode. It was just a bowl of seeds and fruit and he practically levitated and orbited the room with pleasure. "Savor life" is his message to me.

9. Comments on my blog. This blog has been an exploration of ideas and technology for me. When people leave comments it affirms my existence in the blogosphere and makes the writing more worthwhile.

10. Living in San Diego. As I write this I'm looking out over Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean. There's a bit of haze so I can't quite see Mission Beach, but the day is lovely and full of promise.

11. My mother. (You thought I was done with that line, didn't you? I told you this was in no particular order.) She is an outstanding gardener and taught me to cherish plants. My efforts to raise my garden from seeds follows the example she set for me.

12. My friends. I never seem to have to ask for support, it just shows up. Through some rough patches I've had friends who just call out of the blue to ask how things are.

13. You. You took the time to read this post. That's time you could have spent in other ways and instead you chose to visit my little corner of the web and see what I had to say. Thanks.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christmas Around The Scratching Post Is Most Like...

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, it's now officially OK to discuss Christmas.

Your Christmas is Most Like: The Muppet Christmas Carol

You tend to reflect on Christmas past, present, and future...
And you also do a little singing.

H/T: The Jake Silver Show.

So Now They Tell Me

I've been growing a bunch of plants from seed. Or at least I've been trying to. I've blogged about them in a very tiresome fashion. That part didn't need so much trying. My blogging can be quite tiresome on its own.

In any case, when I bought the flats for the seeds, I didn't notice that there were two types of flats. One with holes on the bottom and one without. I also didn't bother to read about germinating seeds. How hard could it be? You plant the seeds and water them. They come up. It happens all the time. That's how my old lawn got filled with crabgrass.

What a joke. That's not the way it works at all.

Only a dummy buys the flats with holes in the bottom. You want the flats without holes because you water the sprouts from the bottom, not the top. When you water them from the top, you beat them down they way Mike Tyson would get stomped in a bar fight with an old lady. Diane's Seeds has the details. BlossomSwap has the experts on line to fill in any details.

Incidentally, Diane could teach lessons in customer service. I bought seeds from her and she sent a nice email to let me know they were on their way and has corresponded with me since. Maybe she thinks I'm in prison or something. It's probably some charity thing she does for her church. My landscaping looks like a prison exercise yard so she's not far off.

Man, that went on for a long time. I told you I could be tiresome. But did you listen? No. You kept reading, didn't you? Well, here's where I throw in a photo of my mashed sprouts. I need to start fertilizing them, too. I'll stop writing now and show pictures.

Gold Dust Alysums crushed by torrents of water.

Just to salve my ego and prove I can get it right once in a while, here's a Gerber Daisy I raised from seed I harvested myself. She's a daughter of a plant given to me by friends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Because I Can

The piano scene from Animal Crackers.

You're welcome.

Persuasion Tuesday #2

Persuasion Tuesday is an effort to use the blogosphere in a positive campaign to advance conservative ideas. Everyone can participate and it's a great way for bloggers increase their link count and traffic.

On my first Persuasion Tuesday I posted about a concept that is near and dear to the hearts of the center-right: controlling spending. This time I want to talk about a more generic concept: How do you measure the success of your persuasion campaign? Since living within your means is a huge deal for me, I'll continue to use that example.

A roadside billboard we'd like to see.

Hugh Hewitt, the Feline Theocracy's Patriarch of the Airwaves, has interviewed many Mainstream Media (MSM) journalists and editors on his show. His theme is that the MSM is severely biased and this bias is crippling their objectivity and wrecking their ratings. He asks a series of questions designed to determine who they voted for and where they stand on the issues. Allow me to suggest a different line of questioning. How much do they know about basic financial concepts and how much they owe because of government spending? Here's a starter list.

1. Do you have a 401K? Have you borrowed against it? Why?

2. How much credit card debt do you typically carry? Does it bother you?

3. Did you know that the US Government spends every penny of its 401K every year? What are the consequences of that?

4. Every man, woman and child in the country owes $28,412 because of government borrowing. When do you plan to pay your share?

The best metric for a persuasion campaign is to find out how much your target audience knows. Once you have that data you can further refine your education campaign. Remember, getting our initiatives enacted is a public education campaign, not a politician education campaign. They won't do a thing if the general populace doesn't want it. Since the MSM is still a great information distribution vector, it's crucial that they participate in this or at the very least, comprehend the magnitude of what's going on.

How much do they know? How much does it bother them? One would think that if you started pressing a person for just when they will pay off their $24K per person debt, they might start wondering just how they got into this problem in the first place and how they'd get out.

Other Persuasion Tuesday participants:

Get the Persuasion Tuesday footer code here!

The purpose of the meme is to give center-right bloggers a constructive way to discuss issues important to us and to better connect our community. Visiting fellow Persuasion Tuesday (PT) sites is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your PT in others comments. Be sure to update your PT with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their PT. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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A Fistful of Dollars?

No, a tummy full of tuna.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

The Right Questions are Being Asked

Hugh Hewitt posts about hunting for new ideas. Michael Barone has more.

Here's a thought, gentlemen. How about using Web 2.0 to find new ideas? Like proposing them and discussing them on blogs. What makes you think that the think tanks at Heritage and the like know more than we do? Do you think that the politicians didn't know about Heritage? Of course they knew. They didn't enact any of the concepts of limited government because the general voting population didn't want them.

The key is to persuade the general population about the ideas we've had for quite some time. It's probably rude to quote yourself, but I'll say it again anyway.

We need to focus on public opinion, not politicians. The biggest problem we face is not Trent Lott devouring both shoes at the same time, but how we will educate our fellow citizens about the fiscal cliff we are racing towards. There is no indication that Trent Lott and his cronies see any of this as a problem. They may say that when they come and give speeches to conservative groups, but they don’t behave like it matters to them at all.

The politicians will do whatever gets them votes. Until we manage to raise the awareness of the general population the politicians on both sides will continue to slop the trough with money we can’t afford.
I will be posting a Persuasion Tuesday entry tomorrow.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Raccoon Invasion

In the last week we've had a local raccoon invade our house three times. Once while I was on travel, he got in through the cat door, knocked over the bin of KT's food and feasted. My neighbor who was taking care of our Maximum Leader thought she had done it. I thought this unlikely, but didn't worry much more about it. Yesterday morning I came downstairs and found trashcans tipped over throughout the house, muddy paw prints all over the place and Jacob's cage disturbed. The wretched creature had tried to eat our favorite Syrian hamster!

We have a cat door that has been left wide open in the past so that KT can go wherever she likes. She doesn't like the flap on the door, so I removed it. It's just a framed hole in one of our doors. Yesterday I took the hard, plastic cover for the cat door and cut out a KT-sized hole in it and slipped it into place over the cat door, reducing it from a large opening to a smaller cat-sized opening.

The old raccoon-friendly cat door.

The door with the new raccoon shield. The opening is now 6"x5". Note the muddy claw marks on the sides of the opening.

This morning I got up at my usual ungodly hour and came downstairs to the sound of plastic being scratched and pushed around. The raccoon had somehow squeezed through the door and had climbed up on the food bin and was trying to open it. When I turned the lights on he must have run off because I never got a glimpse of him.

I'm scratching my head trying to figure out what to do next. I hate litterboxes and only use them when it's raining outside. If I seal off the cat door entirely, I'll have to put one somewhere in the house and keep KT inside at night. I don't think I'll go that route right yet. I think I'll first try a motion-sensitive light in the laundry room where the cat door is and move KT's food into the garage where the raccoon can't get it.

Whatever the solution ends up being, KT and I sat on the stairs today and agreed that the raccoon is a very, very wicked animal.

Our Maximum Leader inspects the defensive perimter.

Other felines ferociously fend off fearsome fiends at this week's Carnival of the Cats.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


If you haven't seen this yet, sit back and enjoy.

No More Trough Sloppers!

Now that the Republicans have elected their leadership for the next two years, the blogosphere’s pundits are weighing in. Is this person the right one for the job, does that one have charisma, will this one manage to keep his foot out of his mouth and so on. The pundits all talk about the Republican leadership advancing our ideas. I would suggest that this is semi-delusional. From reading their blogs, listening to the talk shows and perusing editorials, I’ve gotten the notion that the center-right is in favor of smaller government. Stripping away the rhetoric and looking at the facts, neither party is in favor of that. It's up to us to change that.

The Federal government is spending more and more each year. Over the last two years the Republicans have controlled the legislature and the executive branch and the spending has just gone up and up and up. Right now, the Federal government is spending every tax dollar that comes in, spending all of the retirement “savings” money that comes in and is borrowing yet more money and spending that. All of this is being done in the middle of a sound economy and a historically inexpensive war.

It doesn’t work at the individual level and it doesn’t work at the national level. If a person spends their 401K and runs up their credit cards, then they can hope to die before all the bills come due and just leave the mess to their heirs. There is no such out for a profligate government. That debt just keeps getting higher and the day when we’ll need those retirement savings just keeps getting closer. And what are we talking about? John Boehner and Trent Lott.

Who cares about them? We need to focus on public opinion, not politicians. The biggest problem we face is not Trent Lott devouring both shoes at the same time, but how we will educate our fellow citizens about the fiscal cliff we are racing towards. There is no indication that Trent Lott and his cronies see any of this as a problem. They may say that when they come and give speeches to conservative groups, but they don’t behave like it matters to them at all.

The politicians will do whatever gets them votes. Until we manage to raise the awareness of the general population the politicians on both sides will continue to slop the trough with money we can’t afford.

I’m still trying to get Persuasion Tuesdays started to work out how we can change public opinion about such issues, but I’m open to any and all other ideas. In the meantime, I’ve turned off all the talk radio stations except Hugh and listen to the sports stations instead. Political talk radio is just the same thing over and over with no goal other than electing one set of trough-sloppers over the other.

Bloggers posting about the leadership elections include Dean Barnett, Mary Katherine Ham, Carol Platt Liebau, our own Vicar of Victory, Captain Ed (who gets close, but still doesn't address the real issue), Asylum Pundits, Confederate Yankee, Suitably Flip, Blogs of War, Webloggin and many others.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Using Every Crayon in the Box

I was fortunate to get to Virginia right near the peak of the fall foliage colors. I probably missed it by about a week. I had some time during this trip to get out and take pictures in daylight. As I did so, I was struck by two thoughts. One was a revision of the famous quote from Casablanca. "I remember the day well. The sky wore grey, you wore red, yellow and orange."

The other thought I had was that the deciduous trees had decided to take all of the warm colored crayons from the box and the sky had chosen all the cool colors. The pine trees, being naturally indecisive creatures, split the difference.

Warm in the foreground, cool in the background.

A little yellow, a little blue and voila! we have agreed with both sides! How very nuanced.

There were a bunch of these trees with grey houses in the background. It looks like the landscaper chose trees to provide just this kind of contrast. It was wonderful.

Give me the red crayons. All of them!

I'm pretty sure that all of these shots came from Alexandria. I took some pictures around Carderock, but I don't think I chose any of those. They were still lovely, but these were more dramatic.

For more Virginia goodness, visit the Carnival of Virginia.

Jungle Cat

Has our Maximum Leader returned to Kipling's wet, wild woods?

For more flowered felines (and cats of all sorts) visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Thirteen, Coming Home Edition

I’m writing this on my flight from Dallas to San Diego. I just did a five day business trip to DC and I’m happy to be coming home. When I was playing around with ideas for this week’s TT it dawned on me that an easy one to do would be…

Thirteen Things I’m Looking Forward to Coming Home

1. Seeing our Maximum Leader. As soon as she hears the door open, she’ll come running to see me. She never holds grudges or shows me how disappointed she is in me for having left. She’s just happy I’m back. I’ll get lots of head bumps and leg rubs and hanging around with me wherever I go in the house. There will loud, appreciative purring when I pet her.

Our Maximum Leader as she strolled over to greet me today.

2. I won’t have to worry about losing stuff. Dragging the most expensive parts of my wardrobe and portable electronics all the way across the country and back is an opportunity to lose something costly. At home, I can leave things lying around wherever I drop them and they’ll be there when I get back.

3. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating out is great, especially when someone else is paying, but there comes a time when you want more than starches and meats. I love to cook and fresh food is really important to me. I’ve got a pair of squash waiting for me on my kitchen counter to be used in an Indian dish with lots of yogurt and spices. Yum!

4. A chance to take long walks. San Diego is always good for that. I miss the ocean.

5. My TiVo. I get insomnia from time to time and I missed having the NFL games from the previous weekend on tap to watch late in the night. My Saints lost, but I’m anxious to watch the game. I flew on Sunday this time, so I missed all the games. I’ve got 9 hours of NFL waiting for me.

6. My desktop computer. I hate typing on a laptop. The desk at the hotel room is always at an odd height and the keyboard is cramped. I miss my own space.

7. I’m looking forward to driving my own car. I got a Dodge PT Cruiser this time. While they look cool and all, they just aren’t as comfortable as my old Altima. For one thing, the seat is too narrow. I’m a thin man and I still felt like I was being pinched in inappropriate places while I was driving. I also got tired of the thing beeping, hooting and whistling at me every time I did something. I swear the thing thought it was part of a jug band. I also set off the panic button alarm while opening the back hatch once. It sounded like the kind of alarm you’d hear if the 12th Imam was found hiding in the back seat. It took about 5 minutes to figure out just what was bugging the car and turn it off.

8. I miss my neighbors. Even if it’s just saying hello as we come home from work, I miss the pleasant people who live nearby.

9. I miss the San Diego weather. It rained in DC! Well, just a little, but still it was rain. How horrid. How do those people live with it? And where were all the palm trees?

10. Good Mexican food. Yes, I know I hinted that I was tired of eating out, but the two chicken tacos, rice and beans at JV’s taco shop in Bay Park is the best. That and cheap beer is de rigueur on Wednesday nights. What did I have this Wednesday? I think I had a small take out pizza. It was good, but it was no JV’s.

11. Jacob the Syrian Hamster. He’s joy on four legs. I probably won’t see much of him tonight as I’ll crash early, but it’s a lot of fun to let him out of his cage, sit on the floor and read in his room while he scampers all around and on top of you.

12. Space. I miss having extra space to live in. Hotel rooms are OK for a while, but I miss having more than one room to flop around in.

13. Most of all I miss my kids. My son’s football season finished and he decided to join the wrestling team. He’s really excited and wants to tell me all about it. I’ll be coaching my daughter’s soccer team at school this year and I miss talking to her about it, asking about her school day, reading her stories at night and just hanging out with her. I miss playing video games with them, making silly noises and wrestling. I miss their warmth.

There. 13 things I’m looking forward to or things I missed while I was gone. What would you miss?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Animal Rescue Style

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It's been two weeks since I WOGged.

I missed last week's World of Good (WOG) because of mad cow disease, vampire attacks, low biorhythms or just general ennui. I can't remember which. In any case, we're back with another WOG, inspired by our blogging partner, Jacob the Syrian Hamster and a lady in New York who rescues his relatives.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, we discovered New York Hamster House. It's a facility that tends to the needs of abandoned and unwanted hamsters. It's run by Jessica Wells who got her start when she noticed one of the little furries running loose in the street. A tenderhearted person by nature, she scooped him up and a new animal rescue facility was born. Here's her story.

The New York Hamster House was founded in June 2005 by Jessica Wells and Kaiser Wilhelm Hamster as a not-for-profit shelter for homeless hamsters in the New York City area. Wilhelm, the first guest, was found running across Broadway at Thayer Street in Inwood. Since then, the NYHH has taken in over 75 homeless animals, and has placed more than 35 in happy, safe forever homes. We shelter, adopt out, and board hamsters (as well as gerbils and mice).

The Kaiser himself, in all his glory.

Jessica also has a blog.

She's not alone. With a little gumshoe work, you can find a whole community of animal rescue bloggers. People who donate their time to the cause of saving both wild and domesticated creatures. Some travel great distances to volunteer their time to save rare and endangered creatures during natural and man-made disasters. Others are right near you, working with abandoned pets and local wildlife. Let's meet a few of them.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has an animal rescue blog. As of this post, they had traveled to Indonesia to help rescue Orangutans who were injured or displaced by a large, man-made forest fire. It makes for some amazing reading. Here's part of their latest post.

...two rescuers had found two orangutans, one adult female and one juvenile (high up in a tree)...The tranquilizer gun shot once, then twice, three, four, and then five, finally! The female, sitting in the only tall tree standing high in the area began to get sleepy...These two rescue team members climbed about 100ft straight up, with no branches to rest on, to allow the female orangutan to have an easy fall to the bottom.

An Indonesian orangutan saved from the fires.

Over at the Blog Pound, Leigh-Ann takes in foster kittens. She also posts frequently in support of animal adoption.

Anyone who takes in unwanted kittens is OK in my book.

Aimee's Animals helps people adopt rescued pets. Like this one.

Yes, I know it's a dog. Dogs are horrible things. In spite of that, we can't just have them put down. If we did that, we'd have nothing to use as a comparison to prove that cats are superior.

There are many, many more to find. Everywhere you look, people are donating their time to charitable causes, be it animal rescue like these folks or the other causes we've shown in previous WOGs. To borrow from Dr. Seuss, "From near to far, from here to there, the World of Good is everywhere!"

For more WOG posts and a description of why we WOG, visit this post.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Blogworld Expo Road Trip!

I'm packing already and the show isn't until November 8-9, 2007! We're gonna pile everything we need into the old jalopy and head for Vegas, baby. We're going to Blog World Expo!

Aren't you?

It'll be a new media party like there's never been! Best of all, it's being organized by a member of the Feline Theocracy! Imagine that! Our Vicar of Victory has been dreaming big dreams and has the power to pull it off.

Two days of rich, bloggy goodness. Technologies, techniques, talks from the superstars of the blogging world, it's all going to be there.

Where will you be on November 8?

Persuasion Tuesday #1

From a tiny acorn the mighty oak tree grows...

Our very first Persuasion Tuesday post. It seems kind of odd doing a political post without trashing someone. Could it be that politics has become such a bloodsport that one reflexively associates one's position with just how stupid your opponents are? Hmm. Oh well, on with the show.

I was raised by Depression-era parents. Money was always tight for them and debt was something to be avoided for everything but your house. As I manage my own finances, I find myself still guided by their teaching and when I listen to or watch financial shows, it's never about which stocks to pick it's always about how to save money and retire debt. Dave Ramsey is my hero. I bought one of his books. At a used bookstore, of course. :-)

I was thinking about this first post and what's always been a big deal for me is how we as a nation don't seem to be able to live within our means. We're not involved in a war on the scale of WWII or the Civil War and yet we borrow money like crazy. We leach off of Social Security and then borrow still more money to spend, spend, spend. Imagine doing that in your own life. How well would you sleep at night if you borrowed against your 401K and then kept spending with your credit cards? America does that all the time.

I'm not going to make this a long post, but I want to leave you with this thought. How does it make you feel to be taking from retirement and burdening your kids with debt at the same time? It's like asking your parents for an allowance and then hitting up your kids for their lunch money. If you saw a story like that in the newspaper you'd think the person was some kind of addict, wouldn't you?

Don't you want that to change?

Links to other Persuasion Tuesdays:

Get the Persuasion Tuesday footer code here!

The purpose of the meme is to give center-right bloggers a constructive way to discuss issues important to us and to better connect our community. Visiting fellow Persuasion Tuesday (PT) sites is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your PT in others comments. Be sure to update your PT with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their PT. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Persuasion Tuesdays


With affection and gratitude to Just the Girl Next Door who turned me on to the weekly meme concept.

Persuasion Tuesdays (PTs) are an organized way for center-right bloggers to post constructive articles on issues important to them. The connectivity of Web 2.0 affords us the opportunity to discuss these issues in a positive way and connect with others who feel the same. The goal of PT is to provide coherent arguments that lead to the enactment of the positions important to us.

So much of the blogosphere, particularly the political portion, is devoted to attack pieces. Persuasion Tuesday is a chance to get away from the vitriol and bile and give positive reasons for our philosophies. Participation is simple. On Tuesdays, post about some issue important to you. The post can be your position, an argument in favor of it, a video demonstrating it, the results of a discussion about it with friends or opponents, a refinement or discussion of someone else's PT, anything you like. The post must be affirmative in nature. Attacking opponents is not in the spirit of PTs. Participants are encouraged to strongly moderate the comments on these posts and remove those whose tone is uncivil.

Here's the footer code that describes PTs. By using it, you improve the connections in our community and allow us to find each other. Just cut and paste this paragraph into the bottom of your post. You are also encouraged to make use of Mr. Linky's automated link list widget.

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The purpose of the meme is to give center-right bloggers a constructive way to discuss issues important to us and to better connect our community. Visiting fellow Persuasion Tuesday (PT) sites is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your PT in others comments. Be sure to update your PT with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their PT. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!<br />
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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sunset over Mission Beach

With Winter on the way, the sun has moved south and now sets over Mission Beach. It gives a cool silhouette to the church tower.

Positive Tuesdays?

Update: Persuasion Tuesdays have started! Come on by and be a part of it.

A while back, Just The Girl Next Door started a weekly meme called "Thursday Thirteen." It's a lot of fun. You just post a list of 13 things on Thursday, put up the proper Technorati tags and then when others leave comments, you post a link to their Thursday Thirteen. Bloggers get lots of links and traffic from this and it builds a real sense of community among the participants. I do it every week I can. Here's my most recent Thursday Thirteen, or TT.

There are various resources available to make TTs easier. One is Technorati, where you can easily find other TT participants. Another is Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky has a cool widget that makes adding links to your post easy. In fact, the visitors themselves do it.

Previously I proposed a way to use blogs and talk radio to push for constructive changes for the country. Leading up to the last election, the Republicans held the Senate, the House and the Presidency. Center-right bloggers wrote vigorously every day. Most of it was negative reactions to what Democrats were or weren't doing. We did not get a balanced budget, a simplified tax code or the border fence built. We did manage to point out endlessly that Senator Byrd (D-WV) had been a member of the KKK and that Senator Kerry (D-MA) was a nincompoop. Was that what we wanted? I think not.

We've tried the attack dog routine and it got us nothing. Now let's try something constructive. I propose creating "Positive Tuesdays" or "PTs." To participate there would be only two rules. Your PT post would have to follow two simple rules:

1. It would deal with how we can make America a better country and

2. It wouldn't contain any harsh criticism of others.

You could post lists, links, photos, YouTube videos, whatever you want, but it has to deal with some aspect of improving the country. Examples would include posts about flat(ter) taxes, educational vouchers, lower crime due to border fences, photos of local private construction where jobs are being created, stories of private companies growing, acts of private charity and so on.

Desired Outcome: An exchange of ideas and arguments leading to a coherent and brief list of goals akin to the Contract with America. Convergence on a small number of realizable goals would focus the efforts of talk radio and the blogosphere on getting them done. I would argue that our combined might would be pretty influential.

The blogosphere brought together a wide array of talents to uncover Dan Rather's fraudulent documents and the photoshopped images from the recent Israeli-Hezbollah conflict. Why can't we do the same here? It would formless and chaotic at first, but threads and structure would emerge.

Let me know what you think. By the way, I hate the name. If you've got a better one, I'd love to see it. I chose Tuesday because I do Thursday Thirteens and World of Good Wednesdays. If you prefer Monday or Friday let me know.

What You Can Do Right Now: Post about this idea now on your blog and talk it up. John over at Stop the ACLU has been a real supporter of the idea and I'll probably run with it just on the basis of his support. Others who have been encouraging include The Real Ugly American, CatHouse Chat and the Conservative Cat.

Update: How about Strategic Tuesdays? Yech.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Yard Work

This weekend I'm working on part of my front yard. It's bare dirt right now, but I think I've got everything I need to prepare the soil for plants. Let's see if I do.

Work area? Check.

Tools? Check.

PVC pipe and cement? Check.

Foreman? Check.

Now comes the nerve-wracking part. My foreman gives my work a cat scan.

Whew! I think it passed her test.

For more feline fun, be sure to check out this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Using the Center-Right Blogosphere Constructively in the Wake of Defeat

Update: Persuasion Tuesdays have started! Come on by and be a part of it.

Hugh Hewitt is my all-time favorite talk show host. Yesterday he disussed some of the next steps following the Republican loss of the legislature, specifically filling leadership positions. Allow me to suggest that finding the right minority leader and the proper people to fill posts in the party is pointless in the absence of a strategy.

It’s becoming evident to me that Newt Gingrich was a once in a generation political figure. He offered a concise set of measurable goals and held his congress to them. I have never been so enthusiastic about voting as I was when he and his colleagues put forth the Contract with America. Without such a purpose, the faces the Republicans will use to represent them on talk shows and in front of the press can be as eloquent and beautiful as they like, but it won’t change a thing.

Many people on the net, including Hugh, have echoed this sentiment. We lost because there was no reason to vote for us. We voted against feckless Democrats, not for purposeful Republicans. If the leaders in congress had the ability to set forth an agenda, they would have done it. They didn’t and now it’s up to us.

The blogosphere and talk radio has a huge opportunity now to set the agenda. With all of the communications tools open to us, there is nothing to stop us from developing a positive, optimistic, constructive agenda by consensus. Even if we tabled the issues where large numbers of us differ, we should still be able to develop a valuable second Contract.

Hugh and his colleagues have touted as a way to make a difference politically. I suggest that he and his team produce web-based interaction tools for developing, discussing and voting on a new Contract. Here’s my proposed plan of action and milestones.

1. The blogosphere develops a set of candidate topics through blog posts. I’ll go first. Balance the freakin’ budget! This step is to be complete by January 1.

2. develops a voting site where we are allowed to pick our top 5 (or whatever) issues. Voting complete by January 15.

3. develops discussion boards organized by topic and by strategic element. Strategic elements would be things like deadlines, definitions of terms, and no-fly zones. In my example, I would argue that the budget should be balanced by 2010, where “balanced” means no borrowing from Social Security and it is not acceptable for the government portion of the GNP to pass 30%. The discussion boards would be unveiled January 22.

4. Discussion boards would be heavily moderated to prevent flames and trolls. The purpose is to promote constructive discussion, not name-calling.

5. On March 15, the discussions would be synthesized into votable components. In my example, the voting would ask the participants if the budget should be balanced by 2010, 2011 or 2012 and so on.

6. The voting would be complete by April 1. At that point, the blogosphere and talk radio would have a measurable and concise agenda to pursue. After that, let the blogging and talking commence!

Web 2.0 allows us all to be a part of a blogosphere version of the Constitutional Convention. We can all participate in the discussion and set forth an agenda. On Tuesday we saw what happened when we had none. Instead of blaming people, let’s do what Americans do best. Take the problem on as our own and solve it.

How can you help right now? Link to this post. Drop me a comment. Best of all, recommend the idea to some of the big bloggers out there, such as Hugh Hewitt, Powerline or Instapundit.

In the spirit of Web 2.0 (or is it 3.0 now?) I'm flogging this idea at all of the open trackback sites. The list includes Angel, StopTheACLU, again with StopTheACLU, Third World Country, The Pirate's Cove, Blue Star Chronicles, The World According to Carl, Basil's Blog and others.

Blogging Will be Light Today

...because I've got an infection in my left index finger and typing hurts. It's not a big deal, just a big hassle. I'll skip the Thursday 13 this week and have to do my World of Good at a later date.

Ow! I just typed a "G"!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sell Your Entertainment Stocks, the Hamsters are on the Way!

Peter Grant acknowledges the vital role we hamsters play in the nation's entertainment industry in an article in today's Wall Street Journal entitled, "Coming to Your TV -- Homemade Hamster Videos?".

You bet we are. We're cute, fuzzy and boundless wellsprings of joy. Here's more from his article.

On Monday, Comcast launched a trial version of, a Web site that uses contests to attract homegrown videos, with the best then available for Comcast's video-on-demand TV service. Verizon, meantime, is close to a deal with YouTube, according to people familiar with the matter. If it happens, Verizon TV subscribers are likely to be able to watch the top YouTube videos of the day for a fee.
Here's the key graph for me.

In the future, it's likely they'll give consumers the ability to access individually produced videos from a number of different sites.
If I was a Hollywood studio mogul, I'd be rewriting all of my contracts to actors and actresses downwards. Competition drives prices down, even in the land of socialist nincompoops. If I were Sean Penn, I'd be worrying a lot less about politics and a lot more about how I will be making my house payments in the future. The real economic revolution isn't coming in your living room, it's coming in the back lots of Disney. We're outsourcing our entertainment production. Go to a local high school or college football game. Matt Damons and Kirsten Dunsts are all over the place. There's a glut of beautiful people out there. Matt's advantage was that he was "found" by Hollywood talent scouts. No advantage any more, Matt.

As for hamsters, we're going to occupy the center stage now. Check this out.

Jessica Wells runs a hamster shelter in New York, and recently added videos to the shelter's Web site that were produced by site visitors. She'd like to see them go on TV to help her raise funds and to educate viewers on proper hamster treatment. Ms. Wells says some of her videos get hundreds of hits.
Here's one.

Err, it's not exactly "House" yet, but we're working on it.

She's got a hammie blog. She might be a good addition to the Feline Theocracy .

A Happy Day for K T Cat!

Today is a great day for me. I'll be whistling a cheery tune and walking with a spring in my step. Why would I do this, you ask? That's easy.

Dollar Rent-a-car has changed its rewards program to allow you to accumulate free car rentals intead of just American Airlines miles. Between American, Marriot and Dollar, a totally free vacation is coming my way. Hooray!

The election? Well, to me, it looks like the winners were a group of directionless panderers who will increase the deficit and fail to acknowledge the source of America's social ills, the destruction of the family. They defeated a pack of spineless empty suits who were too busy increasing the deficit and pandering to do anything of significance.

Just what changed?

No matter what the results, you can't bring me down today. Dollar is allowing me to earn free rentals!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We Voted

We did our civic duty. Did you do yours?

For more furry goodness, visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Great Posts from the Feline Theocracy

Hi, Jacob the Syrian Hamster here, back to bring you more wondrous posts from the blogs that make up the Feline Theocracy. As the loyal beadle for the Theocracy, it's my duty to round up links to my fellow theocraticians' best posts.

Sister Jane of Perpetual Purring has a good roundup of the latest polls on this election day.

The Archibishop of Texas tells us that the heavens are trying to give Nardo the cat a bath.

Dead rats and screaming grandmothers. Our Official Artist tells all.

Our Prelate to the Primates has discovered the no-kidding Democratic legislative agenda. Really.

Middle age? The Theocracy's Vicar of Victory has the post telling you how you know you've hit it.

Our Holy Scribe writes about one of my favorite subjects, how the Internet is changing entertainment. He has some cool links and some insightful analysis.

A demon cat casting a spell! That's what you'll find over at our Poet Laureat's blog.

Happy Julie has some recommendations for combatting the culture of death.

Well, that's it for now. If you're a Theocratician and I didn't catch you on this one, drop me a line for a link. If you're a blogger and not a member of the Feline Theocracy and want to join, drop me an email, too.

When Entertainment Becomes a Commodity

Amol Sharma and Kevin Delaney at the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) have a splendid article (subscription may be required) today on Verizon's effort to bring YouTube videos to its cell phones.

Verizon Communications Inc. is in advanced talks with YouTube Inc. to bring the popular Web site's videos to cellphones and television sets, in what would be a landmark link-up between telecom and Internet video.

An agreement would allow Verizon's customers to view some of the most avidly watched entertainment on the Internet. That could advance the long-expected convergence of video and cellphones.
Actors, actresses, directors, producers, the whole Hollywood media world is watching the ground give way beneath them just like the newspapers. (All except the WSJ, of course. We love the WSJ and would never want anything bad to happen to it.)

Chad Hurley, YouTube's chief executive and co-founder, told an advertising conference last week that he sees a huge market in mobile services. The company has already launched a service that allows cellphone users to upload videos from some handsets to the YouTube site, but the clips can be watched only on a PC. The proposed Verizon deal would give cellphone customers an easy way to access YouTube videos while on the move.
The barriers to entry are coming down all over the place. If you're a comedian, you are now competing with orders of magnitude more comedians. If you're not funny, we can change the channel a thousand times over.

I leave you with a YouTube video. I just zipped over to YouTube and found this one of an archerfish catching an insect. It's way cool. If you don't know, archerfish shoot jets of water into the air to shoot down insects and eat them as they hit the water.

Monday, November 06, 2006

WalMart Makes a Head Scratching Decision

The Feline Theocracy's Chancellor of the Exchequer has an outstanding post on the decision by WalMart to partner with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. WalMart now faces pickets and protests from conservative groups.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, faces a boycott from a conservative group that wants the company to change its policies toward homosexuals. Operation Rescue/Operation Save America will tell customers not to shop at Wal-Mart starting the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, the group's director, Rev. Flip Benham, said Friday.
Duhh, what did you expect? For the life of me I can't figure out what WalMart was thinking.

Why businesses feel the need to take a position on gays and lesbians and abortion and all the rest is totally beyond me. No matter which way you go, you lose. If it were me, I'd sell socks and stereos and shut up about the rest. Talking politics and religion in public is bad medicine unless you want an argument.

Gem Show Blogging

Yesterday I took the kids to the San Diego Gem and Mineral Show. It's a small show with around 30 exhibits and 15 dealers. It's a bunch of rockhounds showing off their stuff. I brought the camera, but left it in the car because I had something bigger to worry about.

The kids had never been to a gem and mineral show before. To be honest, neither had I, but it was something I was interested in. A friend of mine had introduced me to rockhounding and I had been out to Ocotillo Wells a few times to pick up some quartz specimens. My friend showed me how to cut and polish the pieces and a few of them turned out to be pretty dramatic. I haven't gone back to finish them yet, so I won't do any photoblogging until then.

In any case, the kids went to the show. Reluctantly. All I heard the whole morning was "How long will it take?", "Do I have to go?", "Can I go over and play with my friend instead of go to the show?", and "Why do we have to go?"

The answer to that last question is, "Because it's something new. New things are good."

We went. The kids loved it. The second my daughter, who had been the loudest complainer of the two, passed through the doors, she went bananas. She rushed about looking at all of the fabulous exhibits. There really was some stunning work on display. At the time I considered going back to the car to get the camera and now I wish I had. She ended up buying two grab bags of polished stones and we discussed them over dinner. If you had candidly filmed us, you could have ended up with a TV commercial for the show.

This brings me to another, semi-related thought. At a marketing conference I went to recently, they talked about companies that bring bloggers in to live-blog product unveilings. What about small, local shows doing the same thing? I thought of it when I was at the Ikebana show. All you'd need is an Internet connection and some power. I'm going to look into that in the San Diego blogging community.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Why the Upcoming Elections Don't Matter Much

The blogosphere is alive with projections for who will control the House and the Senate. Allow me to suggest that while the Senate is of some importance because of the judges, control of the House is not. Yes, I know all about the budget process and the ability to set the legislative agenda. Big whoop. Here's two reasons why I'm not buying into this doomsday talk of one party or another gaining a 10-seat majority in the House.

1. France is falling into anarchy. Read No-Pasaran. Read it regularly. Read Mark Steyn, too. CDR Salamander had a great post on the situation as well. A major world power is imploding from existential ennui. The French of all people have forgotten what it means to be French. The country that blew a gasket and decided to rename the word "email" because it was, horror of horrors, an English word. The French are allowing their cities to fall into urban warfare because they refuse to force their immigrants to become French.

When the French intifada moves into the next phase and buildings start exploding instead of just cars and buses, you'll see tourism drop off markedly. Tourism is France's #1 source of income. Tourism is a highly competitive market and once the customer base becomes convinced the place is unsafe, it will take a miracle to get them back. Mark Steyn tells us no miracle is on the way, only prolonged darkness.

In the near future, our news sources will have images of French cities burning. The elections of that era will focus on how we can keep it from happening here. I doubt that immigration amnesty and massive social spending will be the first thing most people turn to.

2. The Mainstream Media (MSM) is terminally ill. Recent circulation figures show a monotonic decline in sales. Some major newspapers dropped by as much as 8% in circulation. As much fun as it is to bash the airheads at the NY Times, they will be irrelevant in short order. Assume a 4% decline every 6 months. By the time the next election comes, the NYT will have lost 15% of its readers. The political landscape is shaped by the distribution of information. The editorial boards of the NYT, WaPo and LAT can jump off all the cliffs they want. The sound of their bodies hitting the rocks below is becoming fainter and fainter.

These two developments will shape the elections of 2008 and beyond and shape our country far more than any mid-term elections right now. Even a full-scale impeachment hearing would be washed away in the torrent of news as, say, Marseille is torched. Just how does a desperate, bankrupt nation deal with such unrest?

Politcians are trying to figure out which ass to kiss. The Democrats are flailing around trying to genuflect to the far left blogosphere and finding that self-destructive. In the past, all they had to do was romance the editorial boards of their local newspaper. The whole calculus of politics is changing. Just look at the free, viral marketing of Michael J. Fox's video. That got more hits than George Soros' money could buy. Ditto for the ad produced by David Zucker.

Yes, there are elections next week. I'm a dual-issue voter. At the national level it's all about terrorism. At the local level it's all about no more spending or debt. I'm just not kidding myself that the election is going to change the world. Other things already are. I'll leave you with one.

From the comments on YouTube, I saw that the soundtrack is an Italian fascist song. How apropos.

Update. More French anarchy here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Seed Racing Update

The bookies have spoken. I've contacted the odds makers in the one city known for wild parties, gambling and massive hotels and casinos. Colesburg, Iowa. They gave me the current lines of each of the seeds.

As you recall, the contest is to see which species is ready to transplant into my garden first. We've got English Daisies, English Lavender, Painted Daisies and Gold Dust Alyssum. The seeds were planted on October 15. The race is reaching a fevered pitch and the gambling has begun. Here's the current oddsboard.

Painted Daisies 2-1
Gold Dust Alyssum 3-1
English Lavender 5-1
English Daisies 10-1

Some of Sports Illustrated's top photographers have been out to take action photos of the competitors. Until that magazine goes to press, you'll just have to make do with the pictures I took from my digital camera. Click on them for more detail.

The Painted Daisies and Gold Dust Alyssum are running neck and neck.

The English seem to be on a bank holiday or perhaps it's tea time.

Some of the Painted Daisies have begun to sprout adult leaves. If any of the folks from BlossomSwap come by, I'd really like to know the term for the first leaves, the ones that are softly rounded and do not resemble the leaves of the adult plant.

You can place your bets by driving to the Colesburg Apiary or by participating in the poll below. By California law, you are allowed to vote once per day. Vote responsibly. Know when to quit. If you have a Seed Racing addiction, please contact K T Cat by email and we'll make sure help gets to you right away. Lots of help. Have some tuna ready. That helps.

Which type of plant will be the first one to be transplantable?
English Daisies
Painted Daisies
English Lavender
Gold Dust Alyssum
I can't pick. This is too exciting! I need to go lie down for a while
Free polls from

Friday, November 03, 2006

Abstract Animals

This is kind of a gratuitous extra post for the weekend pet carnivals, but I just couldn't pass it up. Last night and this morning, I was fumbling around with the camera, trying to get pictures of Jacob the Syrian Hamster and our Maximum Leader for some pet blogging. I wanted a cat's-eye shot of K T. Whenever you try to get one, she walks over to see what's going on. It's hard to get a decent shot of her. You end up with these odd, blurry photos, most of which you just delete. This one in particular came out great. I love the geometry and colors of the shot.

Hamsters love to be on the move. This is both their charm and a problem for photoblogging. The constant, fuzzy rushing about gives them an aura of joy and cheeriness. It also makes nearly every photo come out blurred. The hamster's skeletal structure is designed to allow them to pass through tiny openings, giving them an almost fluid feel as you watch them. This photo captured a sense of that as Jacob flowed up the kickboard of the bookcase towards his favorite hiding spot behind some paperwork.

For more critters creatively captured on camera, visit this week's Friday Ark, Carnival of the Cats and the photo section of Hamster Heaven's message boards.






For more fantastic felines, visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday Thirteen, Laziness Edition

Sleep is sometimes an elusive creature for me. I typically wake up around 4 or so and that's when I blog. Yesterday I managed to sleep in and didn't have time to write my normal Wednesday World of Good post. Yesterday was a big off-site meeting at work followed by a social. By the time I got home, I just didn't feel like blogging. I sat down and fiddled around for a while, but just wasn't motivated to do a thing. Ironically, that lack of inspiration inspired today's Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen things I do when I don't feel like doing anything.

1. Play Age of Empires. I've played the thing a zillion times and I understand the mathematics of the game. It's now a contest to see how fast I can win. It's mindless fun.

2. Watch football. I Tivo NFL games on the weekend and then watch them during the week.

3. (Off topic.) Man, the Vikings got their brains beaten out on Monday!

4. Sift through the programs Tivo thinks I want to see. Sometimes I get some cool History Channel stuff or some old movie I've never heard of. Most of it is just junk.

5. Hang out with our Maximum Leader. She likes to just be near you. She prefers it if neither of us are doing anything. Cat therapy, as it were. The world slows down when you're with her like this.

6. (Off topic.) Our Maximum Leader.

7. Take a walk. Here in San Diego the weather always cooperates. The neighborhood has some beautiful houses. I get jealous of their landscaping. Mine is just crawling along towards completion.

8. Surf my favorite blogs. The Feline Theocracy always has something interesting to read.

9. Read. I'm reading some old Larry Niven science fiction right now. For a long time I was on a World War I kick.

10. Make lists of things I need to do. This makes me feel like I'm actually accomplishing something. It's a false high. :-)

11. Surf the blogosphere randomly and comment on blogs I've never visited before. Sometimes this gets return visits and generates new relationships.

12. Putter around the house. The clutter in my house anticipates the entropy death of the Universe.

13. Nothing. It's too late in the day for coffee and there just isn't anything worth doing. The view out my bedroom window is outstanding. Whether it's the sunsets, the evening lights or the action on Mission Bay during the day, it's restorative to just take it all in.

There. That's my list. Fortunately, I don't have to use it very often. If you want to add one or two of your own, drop them in the comments.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Komso Kids Style

For Mark, Georgette, Eric, Julie, Jeff and the Anchoress who make my blogging more fun.

This is the 500th entry on this blog and fittingly, it just happened to fall on a World of Good (WOG) post. While surfing around for today's WOG, I happened to come across a story about a British group that has worked to improve conditions at a hospital and orphanage in St. Petersburg, Russia. This struck a chord with me.

My daughter was adopted from Russia. While the orphanage workers there did their best, the orphanage itself was in pretty bad shape. The stories told on the Komso Kids website echo my own experiences. I spent some time rooting around in my garage looking for my photo album of pictures from the orphanage, but didn't have any luck. Surfing the web for comparable pictures, the ones I found were too small to post. Suffice it to say that the fixtures were broken or filthy and the playground structures were rusted and mostly unusable. When I returned from the trip, my one-sentence description of Russia was that everything worked, but just barely. The images shown on the Komso Kids site are pretty close to what I saw.

The Komso Children's Hospital in St Petersburg is "an idependent Public Health Institution with a 385-bed facility catering for all ages, and for all those living in the St Petersburg region." It was the subject of a BBC documentary that highlighted the desperate conditions of the children within. That was a call to action for some folks in England who formed the Komso Kids charity organization. In addition to the hospital was the Kingisepp orphanage. "The Kingisepp School Orphan House No 2 is home to sixty eight children both girls and boys aged between the ages of ten and eighteen years old."

The orphanage prior to the arrival of the Komso Kids group.

Their newsletter gives a good idea of the need and their response.

On our recent visit to Paragalova where I might add there are some very dedicated people working in this centre, our feeling was that the morale there was very low. For those of you who came on the 1997 you will remember Vladimir the caretaker/ maintenance man there. He unfortunately had a stroke some four months ago and now they have no replacement yet. They are asking for our help! We are the sole Charity out there. They don’t get any funding from the state.

The works this year will be to renovate 8 small wards for the children who need to stay overnight for treatment, the stairs are creaking and need of repair, the small Hydro-Therapy pool isn’t working and needs retiling, some of the perimeter fencing is falling down and needs to be supported, fortunately the electrics had to be done some years back, but there are one or two plumbing jobs that need urgently doing.
What I keyed in on was the lack of state funding. These people are filling a need that no one else is filling. Does it make a difference? See for yourself.







The Komso Kids self-description ends with prose I cannot improve.

the true reward is alleviating the sickness and suffering of the children. We can only succeed in this with your help and contributions. Your investment, however small or however generous, will help!

This is a worthy cause!

So the next time you see your healthy children playing happily in our affluent society, spare a thought and put your hand in your pocket for those who may never know the same joy and satisfaction.
How can you help? One way is to shop online at some retailers who donate some of their proceeds to Komso Kids. Visit this link and you'll see how you can get involved. Even tiny contributions can make a difference.

For more WOG-alicious posts, visit my WOG description and index page.